15 January 2009

Why We Can't Have Nice Things

I'm not exactly certain where the phrase "this is why we can't have nice things" has come from, but it seems to have gained sudden popularity as a jest. I am led to believe that the original usage would be from a mother spoken to her reckless child that has just broken something. "We can't have nice things" because if we did they would just get broken anyway, thus ceasing to be nice. Now it has become a fun phrase to use to mock your friend that just made a "smooth move."

But leave it to me to take a fun phrase and make something serious of it.

The phrase has been helpful to me when I notice other people with "nice things." It forces me to remind myself "why I can't have nice things." And it isn't because I tend to break them. It's because I do not have a goal in life to attain nice things. You see, I equate having nice things with a comfortable life, and a comfortable life is not the life of a Christian.

Imagine a mother using such a phrase towards her child. It implies that what things she currently has are not nice, so already such an attitude displays a lack of thankfulness for her possessions (not to mention for her child). Next it implies that she is under some kind of oppression, as though there is an active force keeping her from unbridled happiness in niceties. This buys in to the lie that having stuff brings happiness. It is selfish, foolish, and nearsighted.

I think we've discussed the selfish and foolish parts of luxurious living before, so let me explain the nearsighted aspect. What I mean is that a desire for happiness in stuff in this life does not reflect an eternal perspective. It only sees this life, but a vapor, as the opportunity for happiness. It is nearsighted to forget the unseen, unheard of, and unimaginable happiness to be found after this life.

I heard a song on "Christian" radio today that disappointed me. You may know it; the chorus says:

You only get just one time around
You only get one shot at this
One chance to find out
The one thing that you don't wanna miss

Now you'd maybe think the answer to "the one thing you don't wanna miss" is a relationship with Jesus. Nope! The song implies that for a certain man the "one thing" is spending time with his wife. For a certain woman it's caring for and loving her child. This song says you've only got one life, so be sure to love it! Severely nearsighted.

Christian, be thankful for your life and do not take for granted the good things God has given you, but do not love your life. Lose your life for the sake of Christ, and you will save it. The fields are white for harvest. The world is in pain, including your neighbor. Our Lord's return is imminent. Work! Get exhausted! Do not get comfortable. Your relaxation is in the next life. Store up your treasures there.

This is why we can't have nice things!


Caleb said...


A multi-faceted phrase. Leverage with your children and backing for a wartime lifestyle.

Hannah said...

Ask Rebekah where it comes from, we both know.